Two rare Clouded Leopard cubs born February 29 are stable after their mother stopped caring for them at Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo.
Malee, the cubs’ mother, initially nursed them but after about 24 hours she stopped caring for her cubs. Keepers decided to hand-rear the cubs to ensure their survival.
The cubs, a male and a female, receive around-the-clock care in the zoo’s veterinary hospital and nurse from a bottle five times a day. They are the first set of multiples for Malee and her mate Yim, whose first offspring Mowgli was born in 2015. Over the next several weeks, the cubs will open their eyes, develop teeth, and begin to move on their own.
Though parent-rearing is often best for zoo-dwelling animals, Clouded Leopards are routinely hand-reared for increased chances of survival. Hand-rearing also improves socialization for early introductions to potential mates and reduces fatal attacks by aggressive adults.
“Increasingly zoos are the last hope for many species due to the loss of habitat and political instability in range countries. The birth of these cubs is an example of the collective efforts to manage this species within North American zoos to ensure their survival,” said Dr. Larry Killmar, Chief Zoological Officer, Senior Vice President, and Zoo Director.
See more photos of the cubs below.
The zoo population of Clouded Leopards is managed cooperatively by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Species Survival Plan (SSP) to maximize genetic diversity in rare and endangered animals. When the cubs are a few months old, the SSP will determine an optimum breeding situation for the cats at other accredited zoos.
Clouded Leopards are the smallest of the “big cats,” weighing 30-50 pounds in adulthood and measuring about five feet long nose to tail. Native to Southeast Asia, Clouded Leopards are found in forests and rain forests. Shy and reclusive, these forest-dependent cats' wild homes are being deforested faster than any other regions in the world. High levels of hunting and poaching also contribute to the species’ current listing as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.